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Fake Lie Detector Test Shows Women Lie More Often About Number of Sex Partners Than Men

Fake Lie Detector Test Shows Women Lie More Often About Number of Sex Partners Than Men

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Published by diligentpurpose
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Published by: diligentpurpose on Apr 16, 2013
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04/16/2013

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 Terri Fisher
OSU News Research Archive Search an archive of pastresearch stories.Coverage of OSU ResearchReports on national newscoverage of university research.Reporting on CancerA reporter's guide to thedisease.Science Communications StaffWho we are and what we do.
 
(Last updated 6/30/03)
 
WOMEN’S SEXUAL BEHAVIORS MAY BECLOSER TO MEN’S THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
COLUMBUS, Ohio A new study suggests that men andwomen might not be as far apart in sexual behaviors as previousresearch has shown.In many surveys, men typically report engaging in sex at earlierage, more often, and with more sexual partners than do women.However, a new study shows that some reported genderdifferences might show up because women don’t always answersurveys honestly, but give answers they believe are expected of them.“Women are sensitive to socialexpectations for their sexualbehavior and may be less thantotally honest when asked abouttheir behavior in some surveyconditions,” said Terri Fisher,co-author of the study andassociate professor of psychology atOhio StateUniversity’s Mansfield campus.In this study, the researchersasked men and women abouttheir sexual attitudes andbehaviors under severaldifferent testing conditions –including one in which theparticipants believed they were connected to a lie detectormachine.Women’s answers were closer to men’s in some areas of sexualbehavior when they thought lies could be detected. Mensanswers didn’t change as much as did women’s under differenttesting conditions.“Before the study, we thought men would generally overreporttheir sexual behavior and women would underreport it undercertain testing conditions,” Fisher said. “However, we found thatwomen were more likely than men to have different answersdepending on conditions when they were surveyed.”
 
“Our results mayreflect currentlyshifting gender roles inwhich women don’tfeel as strong a need tomeet certainexpectations abouttheir sexual behavior.”
Fisher conducted the study withMichele Alexander, assistantprofessor of psychology at theUniversity of Maine. Their resultsappear in a recent issue of 
. The study involved 201unmarried, heterosexual collegestudents (96 men and 105 women)between the ages of 18 and 25.All the participants completedquestionnaires that asked abouttheir sexual attitudes, sexualexperience and behavior, and theage at which they first had sexual intercourse. The participants were split into three groups, based on thedifferent conditions under which they completed thequestionnaires.In one group, the researchers placed electrodes on theparticipants’ hand, forearms and neck and the participants weretold they were being attached to a polygraph (lie detector)machine. However, the polygraph was an old model that didn’tactually work. Although the participants filled out writtenquestionnaires, they were told the polygraph was sensitiveenough to detect dishonesty even in written responses. Theparticipants were left alone in a room to answer theirquestionnaires.A second group filled out the sex surveys alone in a room andwere told their answers would be completely anonymous.In the third group, participants were led to believe that theresearcher might view their responses and the researcher sat rightoutside the testing room with the door open.In general, the researchers found that women who thought theiranswers might be seen by others tended to give answers thatwere more socially acceptable than did women who thought theywere connected to a lie detector.For example, women who thought their answers might be readreported an average of 2.6 sexual partners. But those whothought they were monitored by a lie detector reported anaverage of 4.4 sexual partners. Women who were not attached tothe lie detector, but who had privacy during testing, gave answersin the middle – an average of 3.4 sexual partners.Men’s answers didn’t vary as widely. Men who thought theywere attached to a polygraph reported an average of 4.0 sexualpartners, compared to 3.7 partners for those who thought theiranswers might be seen.

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